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Acoustic Guitar Recording on a miniscule budget

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by gak1987, May 21, 2006.

  1. gak1987

    gak1987 Guest

    I'll start by saying I have no prior recording experience of any instrument. I've read up on recording an acoustic guitar and have come accross a variety of different views. I'm not fussy about sound quality (and I have no right to be with my budget :D); all I want is an end-product that the majority of people would have no problem listening to in terms of sound quality.

    My aim is to record some songs with a single acoustic guitar (no overlaying) and vocals (separately).

    I currently have an acoustic guitar, an Epiphone John Lennon EJ-160 with an acoustic pickup:

    and access to two Shure SM-57 microphones.

    My budget is approximately $250-$300 for all further equipment. I know this is very little, though I'm not aiming for professional quality - only something listenable.

    My questions are:

    Do I need a pre-amp for this project? And if so, what is a good budget one for acoustic guitars? I've been recommended a Bluetube DP, which is on the top-end of my price-range (ridiculous budget I know, sorry :().

    Are Shure SM-57's up to the job of recording an acoustic guitar? I know they're not perfectly suited, though it would mean not having to buy a new microphone. If not, what is a good cheap condensor microphone ($100 or below, though perhaps more if I don't need a pre-amp) that would also be reasonable for recording vocals. If I were to get a condensor microphone would it be better than a SM57 for vocals?

    Which would be the best recording solution:
    1) 2 microphones, each in different positions around the guitar (if you have any suggestions on position then please say).

    2) One input from a microphone and one from the pickup of the guitar.

    3) Single microphone.

    I have read that there are problems with recording an acoustic with two tracks and if anyone has some advice for avoiding these if it is infact the best option then please say as I don't currently have any ideas.

    Also for anyone with experience with Linux, is Audacity capable for mixing this simple arrangement? If not not can you recommend a different piece of software?

    I ask this because I don't have the money to mess around with different equipment till I find something I like and there are no music shops nearby where I can test different products The acoustic guitar needs to have a very strong and defined sound as it will be the only instrument (apart from vocals) in the mix.

    Sorry for my very limited budget/knowledge on this subject and thank you for reading this.
     
  2. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    IMHO the best bang-for-buck condenser on the planet is the Studio Projects B1. I think it can still be had for around US$99......


    What are you recording to?... DAW, Computer, multitrack tape?
    Exactly what equipment do you already have?
     
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, you have great tools for getting a start on recording addiction. The 57 is one of the best dynamic mics made. It may be cheap, but no one calls it a "budget mic." I'd suggest learning to get the most out of it before moving on the other gear.

    Just take one of the 57's for vocal, one close to the guitar and the output of the pickup. You have three sound sources that can sound good if you play around with them. Do everything in the biggest room you can find. See if you can borrow a mixer. Mix those three inputs to stereo. Start out just mixing to a pair of headphone. Don't worry about recording. Spend a lot of time moving the 57 around different places on the guitar. Try where the neck hits the body, the soundhole, the bridge, over your shoulder pointing down at the guitar. Try different angles in each place. Play with the stereo field in the mix. Place the two guitar sources a little on either side of the vocal. After you've worked at that, try recording.

    Once you know what you are doing with the 57s (and you have saved a few pennies and expanded your budget) you can consider getting mics that are better suited for this job and using better preamps than are in your mixer. (Though I still use a 57 to mic acoustic guitar at any outdoor live event.)
     
  4. gak1987

    gak1987 Guest

    I'm recording to a computer. I have a poor quality cheap mixer at the moment so I think that a pre-amp would probably be required. Thanks for the mic suggestion, I'll keep it in mind.

    Thanks for advice, this is all very useful for me. I think at this point I'll use the 57's with the pickup output and try to find the best sound. Then I'll purchase a good pre-amp for acoustic guitars in my price range. Thanks again.
     
  5. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    I've personally never had any success on acoustic with dynamics.... but YMMV.

    What is the poor cheep mixer? If it has a couple of XLR mic inputs and phantom power, then chances are it'll be fine for what you need at this stage. The Studio Projects mic and the mixer will take you a LOT further than a SM57 into a budget preamp.
     
  6. gak1987

    gak1987 Guest

    The mixer is quite awful, an ancient four-track mixer that's certainly not phantom power :lol:. I'd be willing to buy a condenser mic and a pre-amp so I'll try the dynamic first and if it doesn't work I'll buy that condensor. Thanks.
     
  7. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Here ya go

    Yamaha 4 channel mixer http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MG10-2/
    Studio Projects B1 mic http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/B1Mic/

    Under $200 shipped

    Add your SM57s to that and you have a great little setup.
     
  8. mud5150

    mud5150 Guest

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    this would be great for what you want to do. If you have a guitar center close buy go in there and say my friend bought these here for $200. Can I do that. They will say yes. The mixer connects directly to your usb port so you can bypass your consumer grade sound card and it comes with cubase le, you'll also have 2 decent quality condensers and enough pres for all your mics so you'll have 4 sources to choose from.[/url]
     
  9. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    I have a pair of MXL990's and they are not a patch on the Studio Projects. I bought them to get the shock mounts for my Neumanns LOL.

    Note that they are not a large diaphram mic and are not really suited to vocals. I would actually use a SM57 on vocals before the 990.

    That mixer however is a great idea.
     
  10. gak1987

    gak1987 Guest

    Thanks for your suggestions, I'm currently thinking that yours would be the best solution. I'm looking into purchasing the items currently, thanks again.

    (Dead Link Removed)
    (Dead Link Removed)

    this would be great for what you want to do. If you have a guitar center close buy go in there and say my friend bought these here for $200. Can I do that. They will say yes. The mixer connects directly to your usb port so you can bypass your consumer grade sound card and it comes with cubase le, you'll also have 2 decent quality condensers and enough pres for all your mics so you'll have 4 sources to choose from.[/url][/quote]
    I'm planning to record this on Linux and have a half-decent soundcard (Soundblaster Audigy 2, which should give at least half decent results). I'm very impressed with the reviews of the B1 microphone and will try that first, though I'll keep the MXL990 in mind if it's unsuitable, thanks.
     

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